Monday 26 August 2019.
Highlights: Emotional World Trade Centre visit, Phantom of the Opera.
A very big and emotional day in New York City. I started by meeting my mother and brother at their hotel The New Yorker, for breakfast and a quick catch up by our later even attendance at the Phantom of the Opera.
The 9/11 Experience tour started at the St Paul’s Chapel. This was originally an Episcopal chapel (now multi faith) and is located at 209 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, New York City. This Chapel was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan. This Chapel was built to keep the lower class residents away from the New York Cathedral.
Somehow this Chapel survived the 9/11 attacks and the World Trade Centre buildings collapsed only two blocks away. They turned the Chapel into a control and rescue centre for the next few months. For a long time the Chapel became a place to put posters for missing people, I was to see some of these poster later in the day at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Our tour was lead by Elizabeth Bacon who was in middle school in Arlington when the attacks occurred. Elizabeth described her day when she was dropped off at school by her dad hoping to show off her teeth since her braces had left been taken off. At this particular school they had the TVs on and the teachers and students watched what was occurring in New York. As a loud noise was heard near the Arlington school the school went into lockdown and turned the TVs off as smoke was seen nearby.
Later as some of the parents started picking up the students they learnt that the World Trade Centre towers had come down and eventually that the Pentagon had been hit. Elizabeth’s dad worked at the Pentagon. He didn’t leave the Pentagon for 2 days as they went into lockdown.
We moved onto the Oculus, a new building created to cater to Subway. This was the first building created after the attacks. In many ways the Oculus is an optional illusion, much bigger on the inside than it appears. Once a year on the anniversary of the attacks the Oculus roof is opened from 8.46 am (when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower) to 10.28 when the North Tower collapses (the South Tower collapsed at 9.59). This represents how New York was vulnerable during this time frame. Last year it was raining heavily but they still opened the roof and all the attendees got wet but everyone appreciated the meaning for this memorial event.
We then moved onto the 9/11 Memorial Pools. The nearly 3,000 names of the men, women, and children killed in the attacks of 11 September, 2001, and 26 February, 1993, are inscribed into bronze panels surrounding the 9/11 Memorial’s twin pools, set within the footprints of the original twin towers. Unfortunately the names are still being added to as the dust and material thrown up in the air are still causing serious health issues.
Elizabeth pointed out the Survival Tree, a Callery pear tree that somehow survived the building collapses. Well only a small part of the tree but from this they managed to regrow the entire tree as a sign of hope.
The tour end at this point and most of the group moved on a visit to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This was a difficult visit. I felt I had to go to this museum completed a 20 year journey that began when I first visited New York back in 1999 and later watch the 9/11 attacks on TV live in Australia late 9 September and early 10 September (due to time zone differences), and later visiting twice to see the rebuild. I suspect this will be the last time I visit this area and address the saddest international event in my life time.
The museum has lots of material from these attacks and the aftermath including damaged police and fire trucks, poster looking for missing (and mostly dead) people, later artist works on the events. I got to listen to recordings from people who died, some knew the end was near but most still held out a little hope, at the time these kinds of attacks were unthinkable. This museum isn’t for everyone, I noticed several people had to leave as they got too upset.
After the museum my finial visit of this activity was to visit the One World Observatory which provided a great view of the New York skyline.
Later that evening meet up with my mum and brother and we attended Phantom of the Opera which is my mum’s favourite shoes of all time. Due to my mum’s restricted mobility 2 of our three seats were placed on the ground level close to the stage but with slightly restricted views. Reagan sat with mum for the first half and after intermission we changed places. The Phantom was played by Ben Crawford and Christine by Kasey Ann Voorhees. While I enjoyed the show the most important thing was my mum was overjoyed with show.
A long and enjoyable day.